Australia Day – Food, Of course!

Australia Day was/is January 26th. This year it fell on a Saturday, so the public holiday fell on the Monday (28th) making it a lovely long weekend!

Although I am of mixed Islander/Australian decent, I was born and raised here and I’m as Aussie as they come particularly when it comes to Australian tradition.
I also like to put my own special mix into things because lets face it, sometimes tradition can be boring.

This year, I decided we would eat lamb as per tradition (we had some lovely lamb sausages), but would accompany that with a massive bowl of Fattoush.

What is Fattoush? No, it is not a fat toosh -wiggles butt-

Fattoush is a traditional Lebanese bread salad. In Australia we have a huge Lebanese community, I will admit that I was only introduced to proper, good Lebanese cuisine when I moved to Sydney (where I believe the biggest Lebanese community is?) by my better half. He was raised with a Lebanese babysitter who fattened him up on oh so tasty dishes such as Fattoush, Tabouli,  Kibbeh and Kofta.

In this house, Fattoush is like…chocolate cake.

I did a brief survey of a few of my many international friends and found that none of them had heard of these dishes. So I thought I would share this with you!

Fattoush

Ingredients
2 large pieces of pitta bread
1 tbs olive oil
2 Lebanese cucumbers, sliced thinly
3-4 medium tomatoes, sliced thinly
3 green onions (shallots), sliced thinly
1 medium green capsicum, chopped finely
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh baby rocket leaves
2 tbs olive oil, extra
1/4 cup (60ml) lemon juice
1 clove garlic, crushed

1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C/356°F.
Brush pitta bread both sides with olive oil and place on an oven tray side by side. Toast these in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until theyre crispy.
Set aside to cool.
2. In a large bowl, combine cucumber, tomato, opnion, capsicum, mint and parsley.
3. In a smaller bowl, combine extra olive oil with the lemon juice and the garlic and sit aside until ready to serve.
4. Just before serving, break up pitta bread into small pieces. Add bread to the salad, and then drizzle with the oil/lemon combo (use it all).
5. Toss and let sit for a minute or two, then serve.

Nutrition: Aside from the pitta bread, this dish is ALL gold. A little Pitta never hurt anyone!

Fattoush

Tips:
– I like to keep my tomato on the chunky side, Im not a fan of super thinly sliced tomato. It gets mushy too quickly and this salad is all about texture and chunk. I pretty much cut it all chunky, except for the shallots.
– Dont be shy with the lemon juice – I tend to use closer to a third of a cup. Also, dont be shy with the garlic – I LOVE garlic (thankfully, so does Eric) and I always use 2-3 cloves in this dish.
– The pitta bread doesnt need to be in small pieces, just grab it and snap and crumble away. Bigger pieces are great for scooping.
– Eat it ALL up. This doesnt keep well due to the bread (no one likes soggy bread). You can adjust the quantities of the ingredients accordingly.

Thoughts:
The first time I had this, my eyes popped out of my head. The rocket is the hero of this dish, in my opinion – I mean, of course the crunchy pitta bread is a WINNER, but the flavour of the rocket sets everything else off.
When we have this, the meat on our plates tends to be forgotten until the end because the Fattoush is just so damn good. Its true om-nom-nom food.
I only ever serve this with a basic meat – sausages or a some grilled chicken breast. Its too filling!

Repeat Offender?
What do you think?! LOL Four years and counting. If I ever end up on death row with one last meal, this will be the first thing I ask for!

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Of course, no Australia Day would be complete without a traditional Aussie treat. At Christmas time, the Pavlova is the sweet tradition but at this time of the year, we tend to go in search for cakey goodness.

Again, after asking many of my friends if they had heard of this, they all failed the test and answered with a no. So allow me to introduce, Lamingtons!

I remember when I was a kid, they would always have Lamington Drives for fund raising stuff in school, etc. Lamingtons were always present at school fetes as well.

Lamingtons were said to have been invented here, and Im quite certain we have enough proof of that, but of course some other country always tries to steal our thunder XD
Note: I have to share this with you as it is a hilarious statement (taken from the Wiki): Ironically Lord Lamington was believed to have hated the dessert cakes that had been named in his honour, referring to them as “those bloody poofy woolly biscuits”.

Lamingtons
(taken from the January/February 2013 edition of the free Coles Magazine)

Ingredients
125g unsalted butter
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups sifted self-raising flour
3/4 cup milk

Icing

2 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
20g butter
3/4 cup boiling water
1 1/4 cups dessicated coconut
1 1/4 cups shredded coconut

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/356°F. Grease and line a 20cm square cake pan with baking paper.
2. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and caster sugar together until pale and creamy.
Add vanilla essence and beat until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Fold through the flour and milk alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Pour into prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.
Cook for 30-35 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
4. To make the icing, sifter together the icing sugar and the cocoa powder in a bowl. Add the butter and boiling water and stir until smooth.
5. Cut cake into 16 squares. Place the coconut into a bowl and lightly mix them together.
6. Working with one square at a time, use 2 spoons to hold cake and dip into icing mixture, coat all over allowing the excess to drip off, then place in coconut and turn to coat all over.
Place lamington on a wire rack to set. Repeat with remaining cake pieces.

Nutrition: Cmon. Don’t make me lie to you.

Lamington 1 Lamington 2 Lamington 3

Lamington 4  Lamington 5

Lamington 7  Lamington 6

Lamington 8

Lamington 9

Lamington 10

 

Tips:
– You will need patience. I don’t have much of that, but what I did have available for the day, I saved up for the moment of dipping and rolling.
– The icing mixture may seem too thin – don’t worry, its not. Don’t make the mistake I did by adding more icing sugar >.> If its too thick, the cake will begin to fall apart.
– Roll each piece well in the coconut, the more the merrier. This helps with the icing setting.
– I didn’t trust the cake to not ooze through (or something!) the wire rack, so I sat mine on top baking paper on the rack. They set totally fine this way, and my rack stayed clean (less washing up!).
– You can serve these cut in the middle, spread with jam and cream – I’ve never been fond of that version. They get too sickly. You could also add a touch of lemon juice to the mixture for a light lemony flavour.
– Put these in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour before serving them, so that the icing sets nicely.

Thoughts:
Oh, man. These were GOOD. Its actually been quite some time since I ate a lamington, and these were the bomb-diggity. The cake was PERFECTLY fluffy and golden and the icing was firm. If you’re really clever, you can do two of these in a sitting but be warned, you may be left feeling like a glutton!

Repeat Offender:
Definitely, but I’m trying to make it like a twice a year repeat offender >.>

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2 thoughts on “Australia Day – Food, Of course!

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